The Marketing Strategy behind Building a Personal Brand at home and abroad

Youtubers today cannot be ignored due to their ability to market themselves- they are becoming celebrities just by posting videos of their everyday lives online. American youtube personalities like Jenna Marbles, Michele Phan, Bethany Mota, Blair and Elle Fowler are entering mainstream media and pulling in 6 and close to 7 figures per year in youtube advertising revenue. They are known for their quirky videos and sharing their personal stories on the internet, but most of all- building their brand. In truth, the revenue not only comes from Youtube, but selling personally branded items on the side, such as Jenna Marbles’ plush dogs to resemble her two dogs in real life, Michele Phan’s Ipsy online store subscription service, or Elle and Blair’s store Glitzyglam. But in reality, the marketing machine behind Youtubers in other countries like the UK is much bigger. The highest subscribed user on Youtube Pewdiepie or Felix Kjellberg, has over 32 million subscribers, just because he plays video games and posts videos of himself playing and commenting in real time. Other users like Zoella, Alfie, and Sprinkleofglitter, easily pull in six figures with their book releases and branded items like Beauty lines. How do they garner so many fans when most people over 35 don’t even use Youtube? 

beth Bethany Mota, who is currently on Dancing with the Stars


 Jenna Marbles, who loves poking fun at everyone and everything


 Beauty guru Zoella with her new book

Youtubers are powerful marketers because of one thing: realism or the appearance of it. Even if everything is filmed on a soundstage, the perception that these are genuine people expressing their own opinions is very appealing to most viewers. Most Youtubers also collaborate and support each other, purposely marketing other users on their own channels to boost views. The superstars with books aren’t to be taken lightly either- Zoella’s new bookGirl Online” is set to be the top seller on the UK booklist with a sequel already in the works. These Youtube stars are pulling in large amounts of money for Youtube and Google targeting 13-22 year old women watching youtube for anything from Beauty tips to how-to videos for decorating their dorm rooms or apartments. Viewers also enjoy living vicariously through users as they “daily vlog” their lives, vacations, and any manager-sponsored trips that they take to destinations ranging from the Mediterranean in France, Walt Disney World in Florida during the annual Playlist Live Convention to Dubai to promote a new collaborate multiple-user channel on Youtube. The key to their popularity is building and maintaining their immense online presence, and viewers continue to watch videos that remind them with hard work anyone can reach their level of fame.

These Youtube users are prime advertisers for big companies like Pantene, L’Oreal, Unilever and other personal hygiene and beauty products. Some worry that they are treading a fine line, and now more regulations have come out in relation to advertising– users need to make an obvious disclaimer on their videos when it is sponsored by a company or when they are being paid to endorse and support a product. Recently, some Youtubers were in trouble in the UK for filming games or discussions centering around Oreo, but didn’t outright say that they had been paid to promote the brand.

A new study claims that the top youtube brands have gone from posting a dozen videos per month in 2005 to thousands in one month in 2014. These videos have been responsible for over 9 billion views, which means that viewers are seeing any advertisements played before these videos. The Youtube users themselves mainly make money from Adsense’s Ad revenue, and they make even more when a viewer watching one of the ads before their videos clicks on the ad. However, sometimes this can backfire if Google thinks a fan or a user is inflating their revenue and views by clicking on an advertisement too many times.

I think that however you feel about Youtube, the users that are very popular are definitely moving into mainstream media, and online companies like Youtube are going to be the advertising venues of the future all around the world. When it is becoming increasingly easier for Youtube stars to have cameras follow them around, they are going to continue to make money from sponsorships from daily brands that want to be seen by these Youtuber’s viewers.  What do you think? Is it worth it to invest in using youtubers as advertisers and promoters?


What a Market Sensing Supply Chain Means for International Companies

International supply chain and risk hedging are some of the most important challenges facing global companies in the international market today. Companies need to have more than one source for most of their manufactured products to reduce risk in cases like emergencies or disasters. This was a big concern after the tsunami in Japan for Honda and Toyota’s production. So how can a company create an international strategy to prevent a crisis in the future? Other large companies like GoPro have had similar single sourcing issues. Forecasting, planning, and knowing your market are all vital to your supply chain. You need to know how much to order and when. For most companies, stocking out is one of the greatest challenges. That’s why companies like Amazon have been so successful, because customers assume they have the product, or they at least have a good “available to promise” strategy.


In this article, Visibility and Agility are key in a company’s control over their supply chain. The other article mentions a third key theme: Adaptability, and being able to adjust to market demand quickly. Companies like Walmart are trying to do this, since most of their goods are in large volume like P&G products. Adjusting your company’s output for demand is key in any marketing strategy and product rollout.


So how can companies make their supply chain more adaptable, reliable and overall better, especially when production is overseas?

1- Companies need to keep an eye on their supply chain and make sure they are not wasting time, money, or inventory during production. Converting your plants to lean manufacturing is the first step.

2- Knowing your demand ebbs and flows. Knowing if your company will run out of a product during holiday time or a popular summer/winter seasonal product is the next step. This includes the marketing manager needing to know when to market the product for peaks and troughs in the product’s lifecycle.

3-Quality: Quality, sustainability, and knowing your product’s cradle to grave cycle is important to the consumer, so it should be important to your company.

4- And finally, a backup plan for the unforeseen natural disaster. Having more than a sole source for your product’s raw materials can help alleviate this risk.


Predicting risk and updating your company with new innovation is also important for your supply chain. This article talks about how companies like Toyota and Intel were impacted heavily from natural disasters that might have been predictable and the company could have prepared for. It’s important to have an emergency plan for your production as well as your virtual data. Most of all, managing consumer expectations and being able to deliver a product on time and in the right amount is the key to a successful business.


How do you think a company can improve it’s supply chain and make it bulletproof? Do you think worrying about the supply chain is vital to a company’s survival?


Product Placement Technology and Whole Foods Fail

Advertising today needs to be more and more creative as consumers are inundated with information left and right. How can a company build a good international marketing strategy?

First we should look at why a company is running an ad campaign.

If you look at this article by Joe Dobrow about Whole Foods recent campaign, the company is profitable, growing, but didn’t reach its 2014 investor goals for sales for the year. They are trying to boost brand awareness and move away from the negative idea that shopping at Whole Foods means “Whole Paychecks” disappearing when you get to the check out.


The article goes on to ask if Whole Foods is targeting the right segment, or expressing the right segment with the tagline “Values Matter”. The author of the article argues that implicitly values matter, and you don’t need an advertisement for that. They might need an ad to keep up with competitors of organic and natural food retailers like Sprouts and Trader Joe’s. Ironically, the author comments that Whole Foods might be sending the wrong message and not debunking the idea that their stores are expensive, since even their ad campaigns look expensive (above).

The author goes on to talk about his marketing efforts for Whole Foods in the 90s including, “direct mail programs, radio campaigns, print campaigns, a glossy magazine, a sophisticated loyalty program, and a co-branded credit card”. Originally they didn’t want to try any of the basic marketing ad tactics because the CEO thought it was an unnecessary waste of money. He felt that if their product had good quality, customers would materialize and stay loyal. Will this campaign speak to Whole Foods customers and gain popularity or did it completely miss its mark?


Another strategy is what this article talks about: product placement where you wouldn’t expect, like music videos or film. Analytics and algorithms seem to be the key to targeting millennials based on their age range, salary, or location.  Mirriad’s 3D in-video advertising seems to be the wave of the future, or is it another something that everyone will learn to block out? This is an interesting “pull marketing strategy” technique, since “at the time of writing some music videos, the product is available in exactly three countries, yet anyone in the world can watch the music video.” This allows international consumers that might not have access to buying a product to request it and create demand for a company to enter a new market. Since Youtube and HBO already seem to be huge revenue generators, the next frontier would logically be companies like Netflix and Hulu (according to the article). This could mean in the future older movies could also be re-edited to include current products. What do you think of this advertising technique? Is it annoying or revolutionary?

The Cloud Expands Internationally and What This Means for Apply Pay

Apple recently launched Apple pay as one of the new features of the Iphone 6 iteration. According to these articles, Apple pay will take another 4 years at least to roll out into Asia, while Apple pay becoming the norm in Europe is already in the works. “Content rights, regulatory barriers and securing partnerships and distribution are key reasons for U.S.-only Apple product launches” according to Jonathan Cassell from IHS investors. The way that Apple Pay works is this:

Apple uses what’s called an NFC or Near Field Connection to hold the phone next to a payment terminal to pay. Then a  “token payment” or stand-in token exchanged with the point of sale terminal is used, followed by an authentication via fingerprint, with all data stored using a secure method. Apple has faced some challenges already after the recent launch with companies like Bank of America double charging customers because of the token payment system.


This is a feature for Apple that has been in the works for a while. They are trying to capture an even larger market, but are moving into the unknown territory of possible currency exchange issues through international use of Apple Pay. People definitely want a secure way to store credit cards and get rid of cumbersome wallets, but what is the strategy behind the introduction of apple pay? Could it be to pair it with the Apple watch?

Maybe this is a economic or social function similar to the use of Google’s balloon internet invention called Project Loon. While some argue that it is silly for parts of the world to have internet, while they’re dying from diseases and do not have a working toilet or clean water, it is an important feature for a modernized world that people can communicate and carry on their business in different locations. With the development of service exports internationally, we also run into services like the Cloud and storing data remotely with access from anywhere on the globe. How has exporting services like Cloud storage change the way people think of products like Apple Pay? You can host data wherever you want, but is it secure? Do other companies have access? Strategy suggests that when rolling out a service/product internationally, you try out a few small markets at a time to minimize risk. Where does this leave international business in the future?


Here are some benefits for international companies to being able to access the cloud from anywhere in the world:

You can do a lot more than basic on-premises computing, your employees can collaborate and anaylze data easier, all employees are able to access the tools they need without hassle, the lack of on-premise storage is more cost-effective, your sales employees have more flexibility, individuals can be more productive even when they aren’t physically in the office, you can gather real-time insights from data, and develop or host applications through the cloud’s platform.

00 new UP IDENTITY illustrations

Here are some of the risks:

Cost again: is this really the cheapest option for your company? It really depends on whether your company is large or small. Regulation issues are the next challenges: employees are able to do a lot more building of their own infrastructure by themselves without sharing their strategies with everyone else- this can be good or bad. Security: do you know where your physical server with your data is located? And reliability: you definitely still need to have backups for your cloud for when accidents happen, like when AWS went down for a week, but Netlfix was able to still function. Because of the security of some data and the concern about its location, AWS has recently opened a location in Germany to help lessen some of these worries. I think the most important aspect of the Cloud being international and Apple Pay’s global roll out is this: the changing tide of technology is coming and as consumers and business leaders, we need to learn how to adapt while still protecting ourselves and our business’s data. Would you use Apple Pay? Does your company use Cloud-based applications or storage?



Market Opportunities in BRIC Countries

Recently, the next international marketing frontier has been the focus on BRIC Countries, or emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, India, and China, as well as similar markets like Vietnam and Indonesia.


These countries that are quickly modernizing to become huge market opportunities present their own geo-political challenges for foreign companies looking to do business. For example, the recent Google crackdown in China and increased censorship. If a company doesn’t want to have a first mover ‘disadvantage’ and face all the costs and risks associated with being first to market in an emerging nation, how does it combat the risks of entering a country that has government corruption and stronger controls than what American businesses are used to?


1- Have a strategy ready beforehand.

2-When China tells a company like Google to censor search results, do they:

a) do exactly what the government wants OR

b) censor a little bit  OR

c) don’t censor and potentially leave the market

Another issues with a market like China is the government controlled currency, and lax health and safety regulations which might have contributed to the recent food industry meat scandal.

Markets like Brazil, Russia and India have their own unique set of challenges. Brazil faces a serious lack of infrastructure, government corruption, and weak education requirements. Russia has recently become a much hotter political climate, as detailed in another class blog post here. With Ukraine issues and European sanctions, Russia has indirectly retaliated by closing American businesses including MacDonald’s for “health reasons”.

Countries like India have became a great location for outsourcing, especially for the technology and medical fields, however foreign investors are greatly affected by currency changes and the recent devaluing of the Indian Rupee.


How can a company combat these issues? We can look at big research firms like Nielsen at how to first approach the foreign market, so which markets are the most popular in these emerging nations? According to Nielsen, media gaming and music are the most rapidly growing industries for consumers in BRIC nations. Nielsen recommends companies should “find opportunities”, “focus on up and coming technology”, and have a plan for “branding and strategy”. It’s also important to look to failures and successes of other companies that might be similar and already in the emerging market. For example, Starbucks and McDonald’s can compare each other to see what the other company does to reach customers and retain them effectively.


So what are your options as a company? Do you have a joint venture, greenfield investment, acquire a local company, or a combination of all three? I think hiring consultants is important and investing in local relationships in order to look towards the long term will make your company seem loyal and serious about the future.